Friday, 2 December 2011

The United States of Europe

Without the rest of Europe, not even Germany could survive much longer, it is clear that all European countries’ economies depend on each other’s performance.
Since Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, Angela Merkel, Germany’s Prime Minister, had to meet other European countries politicians on average every three weeks, which then increased more and more, with further negotiating needs. Forcing European countries to work together is not due to the danger coming from Asia, but, actually even worse, the one coming from inside, within the individual countries’ balance sheets.

The new democratic national objective has become to make the financial markets happy.
The financial markets threaten society as a whole and democracy in Europe. The capital world needs a completely new set of rules. The finance world will have to follow the voters’ will and not the opposite.
The financial transaction tax is by far one of the most hurtful rules that the gambling world of finance should have to oblige to. Both the German voters and the chancellor want the tax to be implemented, but the markets say: “NO”. The discussion represents the way powers are distributed between the people, the elected governments and the financial world.
Now, the German chancellor and the French head of state Nikolas Sarkozy, have joined forces to implement the new tax. However, if the banks don’t comply, even the representatives of Europe’s largest economies remain powerless. The head of the German free democrats Philipp Roessler, this time in his role as a supporter of the financial world, soon posted his threat: the flow of financial transactions would soon be diverting past Germany if the country dares to work against it. Representatives of large banking groups in Frankfurt warned that, if the chancellor is not ready to further follow their instructions and implement the tax anyway, the financial institutions would punish Germany with the movement of employment potential to foreign shores.

So that’s where we stand, with the power of the people, no elected government of a European state can afford to fall out with the financial markets. Only a conjoint government that consists of all Europeans has enough influence to do so, we need a common state of Europeans, because only that is the way to successfully represent the interests of the people of Europe. Only the United States of Europe can regain the upper hand in the ongoing struggle with the financial markets. Hence, the debt issues of all the countries have only one solution that goes vis-a-vis with the demands and the rights of the European people. Almost all democratic countries carry large debts, some of them more, some of them less, but mostly for the same reason: they simply spent more than they earned.

 (Source: RTAmerica)
What goes for taxes and finances goes for most the important areas of politics: the decisive future projects can no longer be achieved on a national level, this includes large scale energy related projects as well as crime or terrorism or even a simple approximation on a country to country basis, they can only be controlled by strong European institutions.
The current European Union, however, is the exact opposite, it’s the master of planning the small things, it decides how to store garden tortures, and how to correctly attach a handle to a door, and it also takes checks that all sheep get registered. Nobody needs a European union only to give generous subsidies to farmers. Subsidising should really be done on a national level. The people of Europe primarily see the European Union as a bureaucratic one way system. Many countries do it like Germany; they don’t send their best representatives to Brussels but rather those that they cannot use themselves. In order to function, the United States of Europe should not be similar to the current European Union in many contexts, or even better in none. 
The United States of Europe (USE) would be a conglomerate of states much like the United States of America, the approximately five hundred million inhabitants of the current European member states would no longer be members of their own state but would all carry a passport of the USE. They would choose a common capital and hopefully decide against Brussels, Germany would be a state, just like California in the USA, some might say that it sounds utopian; others would use the term threatening.  


These feelings run on a similar line to those that French and German people must have felt a few decades ago when Konrad Adenau, Charles De Gaulle and Winston Churchill presented their plans of the future of Europe. In 1946 Churchill was the first to publicly proclaim that “we need a united states of Europe”. For this generation of founding fathers Europe was but a mere vision, a promise, they dreamt of peace after two World Wars, of a Europe without custom control, without borders; a place in which everybody can work where he or she wants. Whereas, during the recent times of Helmut Kohl, the idea of an open border Europe was a scary vision and a dangerous fantasy in the eyes of many Europeans. Everybody pays with the same currency? Absurd! No border controls? How is that supposed to work? Today all of this is reality, almost to be expected.
The mission of the “old” has been accomplished. Europe needs a new goal, a new vision: The United States of Europe. When realizing this vision, the politicians must learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, this time decision-making must be democratic; this time the people, the sovereign of democracy, must be asked first.
Even though the United States of Europe still are long term projects, they can already help us today. The policies of the European governments are, at least, since the beginning of the debt crisis controversial hypocritical and seemingly without orientation. The politicians seem like a group of students on a road trip, without navigation, without knowing where to go. Every cross road is a crisis, the bus stops until everybody has agreed on what to do next. If this group was able to decide on a common goal, the bus would have to stop far less often. With the long-term goal of the United States of Europe, it is also easier to make informed decisions about the introduction of Eurobonds, because of the establishment of criteria: a common European state would obviously also need a European lending fund. Then, the Eurobonds would make sense, before that, they would not. Unfortunately, the leasing country and Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has in Angela Merkel a head of state that finds long-term targets and visions deeply suspicious.  Her proclaimed style of governing is live control and short term planning; she only looks as far as the next cross road. Where this trip is going to, she fails to say. There is no “after the horizon”. If Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl would have had the same attitude we would still stop at every European border and open our trunks for inspection.


We need the United States of Europe not only as a vision; we also need it as a power house in a globalized world. Our European vision of the state our challenges and the rights of our people, our ways of living together, even the shared European values – all that can only be defended as a strong European unit. The new world power, China, has a completely and utterly different imagination of human and civil rights and decisively expands its influence in the world. The old world power, USA in the last gasps of its significance is no less of a challenge to the nations of Europe. It’s very possible that Barack Obama will not be re-elected in November 2012, it is very possible that government will be taken over by republicans such as Texan Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann. In European eyes, both are catholic Taliban ultra right extremists, compared to which Ronald Reagan looks like a dreamy eyed hippy. 

The United states of Europe do not have to hide from both self-proclaimed world powers, even less in economic terms. The GDP of the European Union lies above the GDP of the USA and far ahead of China’s GDP. Europe is the economic powerhouse number one and in the near future nobody will surpass it. If in the far future, the Chinese head of government comes to visit the head of the United States of Europe, our representative will not have to jump in excitement like a five year old on Christmas morning, we will not be a strategic partner; we will be a world power.